Friday, July 30, 2010

Safely in the South

Just wanted to shout that I arrived safely yesterday in Columbia with no issues. Well besides the debacle of an understaffed Quiznos somewhere on 95 in SC that set me back 30 minutes.

The apartment is different than I thought from pictures, but I was pleasantly surprised. My room is ridiculously huge (lots of room for the extra dresser I'm bringing) and the closet is huge! I've unpacked everything I brought in my car and rearranged furniture, it's coming together. The only debacle so far is the lack of any outlets in the bathroom. Confused about that? I am too.

My supervisor LaNae' helped me move in yesterday and my fridge came stocked with water/Diet Coke and there some nice air fresheners & lotion (Sweet Pea, my fave!) in the bathroom. She is too sweet and I can tell will be a big help with getting adjusted. She took me out to dinner for Mexican at Monterey's which was a great first meal here!

I crashed pretty early yesterday from rising with the sun on Thursday and being in the car all day. This morning I went and got breakfast with a friend I know from UNCW and it was nice to catch up and learn about some things to do in Columbia. She is a grad student at Columbia International University which is right down the road from Columbia College where my apartment is. I'm excited to also have some friends in town that aren't from my program so I can branch out as well.

Well now I am waiting for my mom to arrive with the rest of my belongings and once I'm all settled I'll get some pictures up for all to see!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Bye bye Old Line State, hello Palmettos!

Well friends the time has come! Tonight is my last night at home and I'll be on my way to South Carolina (early) tomorrow morning. Actually I should probably be in bed but I already know I probably won't be able to sleep well tonight anyways. What I'm hoping to do is update my iPod a little bit before bed so I've got some fresh tunes for the eight hour drive tomorrow.

Driving six hours back and forth to UNCW really was nothing at all during undergrad. I am however feeling that the extra two hours are what's going to do me in as with careful study I've noticed that six is pretty much my breaking point. If you're reading this and are bored between the hours of 6am-3pm EST tomorrow, holla at me!

I am so excited for many things.
-To finally be settled into my own apartment again
-To meet the staff & start training in the office at Columbia College
-To hangout with the amazing people in HESA whom I already know I'll love
-Being in the South again
-People with better manners
-Roadtrips to Charleston to see my little
-To start classes, my GA, and other activities and finally get back in the swing of things!

I love change and I love new things. I feel like this past month has been dragging by, especially with not much to do and I'm ready to just jump into having a busy life again. I do believe it's going to be a busy two years, and I'm also starting to get the feeling it's going to be two of the best years of my life.

It's funny how I've become so adapted to change. If you had told me as a nine year old when I hysterically sobbed having to move 40 minutes away from the house I grew up in this I would have laughed (while hiccuping from all the crying) in your face. If you had told me this the night before I left for freshman year at UNCW I would have been skeptical but maybe a bit more of a believer. I was so sad to leave my friends and the amazing life I had in high school, but excited for a new adventure.

This time (maybe a few weeks earlier) last year I would have sucked it up and told you I was ready for change. Maybe I wasn't quite ready for such a big change, and for such a lack of stability during my year traveling, but I was in need of the change. I was in need of the challenge of my consultant job with Tri Sigma. Despite the missed flights, long layovers, and lack of armrest space, as I flew on my last flight while working I already was feeling the loss of adventure. I can't believe how much has changed since this time last year, the people important in my life, what I value, what I believe, even my slight love for cities in landlocked states (I know!).

Now on the night before the 4th biggest change in my life up to this point I'm ready to jump right in with no hesitations and nothing me holding me back. I just hope Columbia is ready for what's coming!

I owe you a few posts over the next couple weeks although it's bound to be busy, but keep your eyes peeled for some of these future posts:
-My apartment/life in Columbia, complete with pictures
-My favorite summer reads (so delayed I apologize)
-My grad assistantship at Columbia College

Until South Carolina,
xoxo Anna

Monday, July 19, 2010

Quitting Cold Turkey

There are quite a few bad habits I have. Some that I can't remember not having, some that have I have picked up throughout my life. Luckily none of them are bad for my health or anything, but just obnoxious. Anyone that really knows me knows that I bite my nails. I'm pretty sure I came out of the womb chomping on them.

I can't remember an age where I didn't bite my nails and they've never been long. Actually scratch that I did let them grow for almost a month to get a manicure for my senior prom. However the lady yelled at me for how bad my cuticles are (because another bad habit, I pick at my fingers!) and then my nails were so weak from never being that long that they were breaking left and right.

After an unfortunate incident a few weeks ago, one of my front teeth was left with a tiny chip in it that was driving me nuts. Lucky for me I'm at home for the summer, and also that my parents were sympathetic and paid for me to get it fixed due to my lack of dental insurance at the moment. Went in this morning and had things all patched up, now I don't stare at it every time I look in the mirror.

So you're thinking how this random story correlates? In the car running some things from my Aunt's to my Grandma's house I was bored and went to the familiar comfort of biting my nails. Slight problem. The way the bonding was set when they fixed the chip in my tooth makes it now impossible to get a good grip on biting my nails. For the first time in my life I cannot bite my nails.

At the mature age of 22 I'm excited to finally have decent looking fingers and nails for the first time in my life. This is going to be quite an adjustment but I've decided I'm going to have to start keeping a nail file on me in the same neurotic way that I always have my Burt's Bees lip balm. When I want to bite, I will file. Hopefully I won't file them down to nothing!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Finding My True North

I realized I've been kind of slacking which is sad considering my unemployed state. The end of June and up until now in July, I've reverted back to my jettsetter ways. I went to Florida with the fam (see last post), then headed to North Carolina for the 4th and some relaxation and after arriving home immediately turned around and headed to the mid-west for Tri Sigma's Convention in Minneapolis.

Clearly I was headed north (well northwest if we want to get technical) for Convention, however the inspiration for the post title comes from the theme for this year which was Superior Sisterood: Finding Your True North. The entirety of the event was planned with this theme in mind, including speakers which was one of my favorite parts of the weekend. Ann Bancroft, who was the first woman to travel to both the Arctic and Antarctic, was our speaker during the first night. She was absolutely amazing and while I do loathe cold weather and am not sure I could make it on one of her adventures, she did inspire me to do something in my life that I know will take some work. With some consideration I've added running a marathon to my bucket list. It may not be for 20 years, but hey that's not the point! She was a wonderful speaker and even stayed after to meet women and sign copies of her book. I've added it to my long list of books to read and suggest that you do as well!

I'd have to say the most exciting thing is that we gave her a Tri Sigma flag which she is taking on her next expedition to the South Pole for pictures! How cool is that?

Convention was filled with many things, all of which I wasn't sure to expect as it was the first one I've been able to attend. The general sessions where we voted on National bylaws and changes to our ritual book were very interesting and it was eye-opening to hear the opinions of some older alumnae who were in attendance. What was also great was seeing how much the collegiate delegates got involved and spoke their voice. We have such great women leading our chapters!

I'd have to say one of my favorite parts was the opening ceremony where all of the collegiate & alumnae chapter delegates come in and announce their chapter and hang their shield. Every chapter has a shield which on the back is signed by the delegate that attends each convention.

Elyssia (my chapter's delegate), Brittany (alumna & new consultant!) & Me in front of some of the shields--our beloved Epsilon Phi showing through!

The shields were definitely fun for taking many pictures with throughout convention and I think are one of the coolest traditions that we have. While this was cool on a different scale I finally got to see the Mall of America!! The only sad part is I was just there for a few hours, but let me tell you that place is overwhelming! I've already decided that I am definitely going back to Minneapolis at some point to return there. Once I marry my sugar daddy. And when I have at least a week to spend in that place. I showed some self-control as we only went to Nordstrom Rack and I only purchased a khaki skirt (which rationalization rule #1: can be worn for work) and a pearl bracelet (which rationalization rule #2: on my list of things I've needed to assist in completing my wardrobe). I did find an adorable dress which would have met rule #1, however due to it's white, blue & navy print I was having a difficult time about which shoes I would pair with it and put it back on the rack, although my heart ached as I did so.

Me, Colleen ('09-'10 consultant), Katie & Claire (both collegiate women from Eta Chi at Mizzou) in front of my mecca aka MOA

One of my other favorite things about Convention was getting to dress up all pretty for the fancy banquets! The first banquet I attended was the Laurel's Banquet where all of the collegiate & alumnae awards are given out after dinner. This banquet was really cool because everyone is seated by their collegiate chapter so I had the chance to meet some Epsilon Phi alumnae. As our chapter was established in 1991 and went through some struggles after about 10 years I really have never met alumnae who weren't in school maybe a year or two before I came into the chapter. They had all been at UNCW in 1992 which was just at the beginning of our chapter and they had many fun stories to tell. One of my favorites was that our chapter was established as a local group, Delta Kappa Pi, wanted to join an NPC organization. DKP's mascot was a flamingo (coincidentally my fave animal--meant to be?) which our chapter kept as a sisterhood stuffed animal named "Effie" that they would pass to a different woman each week.

We shared many stories and even found out that one woman, Stacy, was on the committee in Pi Sigma Epsilon that hosted the very first Wing Fling in Wilmington. For all of you Seahawks out there you know how excited I was to be meeting someone who was a part of making one of my favorite outdoor social events of all time come to life! Stacy also just moved to Maryland and so we ended up being on the same flight coming back home this Tuesday where we were able to swap many more stories! I was also very excited that Epsilon Phi received some recognition when we were awarded the Chapter Accreditation Achievement Award, being a chapter who was Accredited with Honors every year in the last triennium, holla!

Lee, Kelly, Stacy (EpPhi alumnae), Jessica (EpPhi chapter advisor), Me, Elyssia (chapter's delegate) and Brittany with our award!

Me and Tiffany ('09-'10 consultant and now Assit. Dir. of Chapter Services) before the Laurel's Banquet

It was so great to see so many of the women I got to meet and work with this past year and I was so proud of them when many of these chapters won some pretty big awards at the Laurel's Banquet! Seeing Theta Alpha aka High Point, receive their chapter's brand new shield was also an awesome moment. Being involved with their recruitment and installation they'll always hold a special place in my heart and I felt like a mother on graduation day. I believe they were the largest colony to be installed in such a short amount of time in Sigma's history, and of course with much hard work from my amazing co-worker Morgan last year who was their residential consultant. I was sad that not all of the team of women I worked with could be at Convention this past year, but did have a great time catching up with Tiffany and Colleen who I traveled with!

Me, Tiffany & Colleen by the shields--our wolfpack was incomplete!

The very last night was the Festival of Lights banquet and as I have a hard time making decisions, and love everything, was also one of my favorite parts. I really can't make a decision about which part was my real fave! At this banquet I had the privilege of sitting with women from our Beta Tau and Epsilon Psi chapters. Beta Tau was a chapter I worked with this past year who is awesome and won a Chapter Achievement of the Triennium award--get it! Epsilon Psi is at the Rochester Institute of Technology and is actually a hearing-impaired chapter. They had two alumna members who were interpreters there with them in every session and it was so neat to get to chat with these women. There are so many little things they do with our songs, prayers and ritual to adjust for sign language and I learned how to sign "Tri Sigma" as well!

The Convention roomies Clare, Colleen & Myself after the FOL Banquet

With my Epsilon Phi loves, Elyssia & Brittany

With Chelsea, delegate for Theta Alpha/High Point and their pretty new shield!

Nicole (advisor), Me, Jackie & Lora (VP and Pres.) from the colony at UM Flint which I spent so much time with this Spring!

I did get some goosebumps during this banquet as we did a really neat candlelight. The room was dark and every woman had a candle. A few members of Executive Council read off a little story listing all of the chapters in their order of installment, and as your chapter was read you were to light your candle and stand up. Seeing light spread through the room from Alpha, our oldest, to Theta Alpha, our newest was so neat. Seeing so many little old ladies standing with pride, and catching the eye of my best friend and sister when our chapter was called. This is when I realized it. Tri Sigma is, has been, and will always be my true north.

I joined an organization which gave me so education, room to grow, taught me from my mistakes and provided me with so many opportunities for leadership. It has helped me to make some of my best memories, my best friends, and to find out who I truly am. It has led me to the career I am going back to school for, and has given me mentors that I will owe myself to for a lifetime. I was lucky enough to work for this organization, to provide my insight, to share my love for Tri Sigma with members across the country, and most importantly to use my love and dedication to help nurture and grow our sisterhood.

Tri Sigma has shaped my life more than anything else I have been a part of or encountered during my twenty two (and a half!) years on this earth and I have no doubt that as the years go by it will continue to do just that. Seeing women receive their Golden Violets (50 years of active membership) made me so excited to hopefully reach that point (in futuristic!) and then made me think of how much time I have to continue to make new friends and learn from this organization.

Without the courage and strength of eight young girls in 1898 I would not be the person I am today, and neither would the 100,000+ plus women of our beloved sisterhood. So really I owe my thanks to them, Sallie Mitchie, Margaret Batten, Martha Trent Featherstone, Isabella Merrick, Louise Davis, Leila Scott, Lucy Wright and Elizabeth Batten.

Every Tri Sigma knows "To receive much, you must give much," and I will forever be in debt to this organization because I have already received just so much from it. I am excited to continue into my next chapter of Tri Sigma, working as a National volunteer on the collegiate Extension Team. I'm also already gearing up for our next Convention....destination ORLANDO 2013!

I hope this novel of a post wasn't to much for you all, and I hope that it got you thinking. What is your True North? Has it been found in something you've been involved with, a certain person, a place? Maybe it's something that you've still yet to encounter, but know that when you do, you will be forever grateful for it's presence in your life!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Hypogriffs, Butter Beer & Hogwarts--Oh My!

Yesterday the family and I went to the Islands of Adventure at Universal Studios, main mission: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. If you follow me on Twitter I apologize for the ridiculous amount of sharing yesterday but I really couldn't contain my excitement and found it the easiest way to share rather than individually texting/pix messaging people. Here's my critical review of "The Chosen One's" theme park and I must say...I LOVED IT!

We got up bright and early which was totally worth it because we were close up in the line to enter the park, which opened before the usual time of 9:00 am, I was pleased. From a distance you could see Hogwarts castle and as we crossed the bridge to walk into Hogsmeade I nearly lost it. I'll have to admit, I'm quite a Harry Potter dork.

Hanging sign at the entrance to Hogsmeade

Of course the first ride we decided to venture to was Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. This is the ride where you go throughout the Hogwarts castle. While snaking around the line and making your way to the front you take a tour of the castle. This includes seeing Dumbledore's office with a 3-D Dumbledore speaking to you. Rooms full of talking pictures including the Fat Lady that guards the Gryffindor house. It looked so real on the inside and definitely would be as I picture it.

The outside of Hogwarts where The Forbidden Journey ride was

Once we finally got to the ride we found ourselves strapped in and on a moving belt making our way deeper into the castle. It was an interesting experience. Our little cart of four seats was on it's own little thing that moved about the castle, taking you side to side. A dragon breathed hot air and "fire" in our faces, Aragog and his spider friends were there and spit (ew I know!) "venom," and we were almost hit by the whomping willow. Parts of it were props and parts of the set and then other parts we were pretty much inside the movie following Harry on his broomstick throughout a quidditch game and the Hogwarts grounds. Overall it was really cool, we ended up doing this ride twice. Would have like to go again but there was a really long wait for it.

Afterwards we went on the Flight of the Hypogriff, which wasn't nearly as impressive. It was mainly for a younger crowd and was a small coaster that went around a simple track. It was nice but nothing particularly exciting. While in line for this ride you pass by Hagrid's hut and see a Hypogriff in it's nest. It's pretty much the scene right out of The Prisoner of Azkaban with Buckbeak.

Afterwards we wandered through the village a bit and went on the Dragon Challenge which is the third ride inside the park before we ate lunch. This was my absolute favorite ride there and in the entire Islands of Adventure park. But I LOVE roller coasters so this was no surprise! The setup around the lines to the ride and the coaster were made to look like many of the scenes from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. The tent where contestants got ready before dueling dragons, the Tri-Wizard Tournament Cup and some other fun things.

Once you got to the front you could chose to either go on a blue or a red dragon. Then the two coasters start off side by side and you feel like you're going to collide with the other one throughout the entire ride. Tons of twists, flips, turns, and drops...utterly amazing! We came back later at night when the park was close to closing and went on the ride three times in a row.

One of the coolest things about the rides was the lockers. You weren't allowed to take anything on the rides with you and it wasn't like typical amusement parks where you can leave your belongings next to the track and pick them up after the ride. You had to use the provided lockers. There were touch screens to "rent" the lockers (which are free for the first 2 hours) and then it takes a scan of you fingerprint and issues you a locker. When you come back you have to use your fingerprint to get back into your locker and retrieve your belongings. I thought this was pretty neat!

After venturing through all three rides we decided to take our time walking through Hogsmeade and venturing in the different stores and shops that were there to see.

In the Hogsmeade Village

I'd have to say I was rather impressed with Hogsmeade, and it looked much more authentic at night and in the evening once the sky was getting darker. It was easier to at least look at the fake snow when it wasn't 95* and I was drenched in sweat. We went around and saw many places in the village, we went in Honeydukes and bought candy including peppermint toads and Bertie Botts every flavored beans. I accidentally ate a ketchup one, fml. Honeydukes was connected to Zonko's joke shop which also had some funny items inside.

We went to the "owlery" where we purchased postcards that were stamped with postage from HP world so they look pretty legit when mailed out. The one thing we didn't explore in Hogsmeade was Olivander's wand shop/show thing. It was a terribly long line for something that I don't think would have been all too exciting. I think they just picked out a volunteer and somehow picked out their wand and made a show of it.

Of course we stopped at the Three Broomsticks for lunch. As usual when at the amusement parks I got a turkey leg although afterwards I wished I had chosen the fish & chips! All food inside Harry Potter world are things you could only find in the books/movies. Meaning no soda, and no muggle food! The menu consisted of things like ribs, cornish pasties (like shephard's pie), turkey legs, fish & chips, macaroni & cheese, and some fun dessert trifles. We also took this opportunity to have our first frozen Butter Beer which was absolutely delicious!

Me and mom with our Butter Beer mustaches!

After we had exhausted Harry Potter world we ventured throughout the rest of the Islands of Adventure. We went through the Dr. Seuss land which was so whimsical and fun and rode the "Caro-seussal" and the Cat in the Hat ride. They were entertaining and there were just so many fun and bright colors everywhere! We rode The Hulk rollercoaster in the Superhero World which fun, although it gave me a headache. We also did the 3-D Spiderman ride/show thing there which was pretty cool as well.

The only thing that was dreadful was Poseidon's Lost Fury (I think?) inside The Lost Continent. This was a "walking tour" and was absolutely dreadful. It was so ridiculously lame and the entire time we seriously were just laughing at how stupid it was and making jokes. At one point I had a laughing fit in which I was doubled over and crying. So there was still some entertainment involved with it.

After venturing through the parks we went back and saw one last thing. They had the "Frog Choir" doing songs and such and what we got to see was a snippet from the 4th book. There was a girl dressed in Hogwarts attire who introduced three guys who were from Durmstrang and four girls from the Beauxbaton Academy who did their little entrances like the do in the beginning of the 4th movie. It was pretty entertaining and the Durmstrang guys were so serious it was kinda scary!

We were in the park for over 12 hours and had an amazing time! I got a mug a drinking glass and some other fun souvenirs from Harry Potter world and hope that I can go there again sometime in the next few years. I highly recommend going for anyone who is a big Potter fan and even those who aren't (like my father who kept saying "Dumbledwarf") will probably enjoy it as well. I'll have all of my pictures up on Facebook within the next week, I'm having some issues loading them all with the internet connection here at the beach. I think the park definitely lived up to it's hype and I only wish it could be larger and have more rides, but hey you can't have everything!

Dad, Mom, Alyssa & Me (you can see Hogwarts in the background!)